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Bombardment of Fort Brown heard at Point Isabel-Captain Walker sent with a
Communication to Major Brown-May charges the Enemy's Lancers-Return of Captain Walker--March of General Taylor for Fort Brown--Published Order -Enemy discovered-Arista's Order of Battle--Taylor's Order of BattleDaring Service of Lieutenant Blake-Enemy's Fire opened-Duncan's BatteryRinggold's Artillery--Churchhill's 18-pounders--Charge of Cavalry-Lieutenant Ridgely-Fall of Ringgold--Artillery Battalion-Lieutenant-Colonel Childs-The Prairie fired-Duncan's Movement-Forces of the two Armies—The Loss on each side-Taylor's Despatch-Arista's Despatch.
The cannonade that opened upon Fort Brown, on the 3d of May, was heard by General Taylor at Point Isabel. Anxious to relieve the garrison, he determined to return immediately to Fort Brown, and the troops were under order to march at one, P. M. Subsequently, he deemed it proper first to communicate with the fort; and Captain Walker was selected for that duty. About two o'clock, on the evening of the 3d, the captain set out with ten Texan Rangers, accompanied by Captain May, with a command of one hundred dragoons; and after proceeding a few miles, halted until dark.
About nine o'clock they came in sight of the enemy's campfires; and, by proceeding cautiously, succeeded in getting between their encampment and the fort. About seven miles from the latter, protected from observation by the edge of the chaparral, Captain May remained with his command; while Captain Walker, and six of the rangers, advanced to the fort. It was arranged between them, that Captain Walker should return as early as possible, so that they could pass the enemy's lines before daylight. 18
Captain May awaited the return of Captain Walker until near dawn; when, finding that he and his party were discovered by the enemy's scouts, and believing that some accident had happened to the captain, he returned to Point Isabel. When within twelve miles of the Point, he found his way obstructed by about one hundred and fifty lancers. These he charged, and drove before him towards their camp for two or three miles; when, fearing an ambuscade, he wheeled about and proceeded on to Point Isabel, which he reached at nine o'clock.
It was near three o'clock in the morning of the 4th, before Captain Walker succeeded in reaching the fort, and delivering his message to the commander. After some time, he received Major Brown's communications for General Taylor, and being furnished with fresh horses, hastened to join Captain May. On arriving at the spot where he had left the captain and his party, he found them gone—and the enemy prepared to cut off his return. He then rode back to Fort Brown, where he remained till night, and then set out again for Point Isabel. The enemy were everywhere in his pathway, but he managed to evade them, and bore to General Taylor the cheering intelligence that the fort had nobly sustained itself; and was able, for the present, to repel any force that could be brought against it. After the receipt of this news, General Taylor resolved to remain a while longer ať Point Isabel, that he might place it in a better state of defence, and prepare for his return to Fort Brown.
During the week which he spent at Point Isabel, General Taylor had completed the defences of that post, and made arrangements for the transportation of the supplies and munitions of war intended for Fort Brown. Summoned thither by the booming of the deep-mouthed cannon that assailed the fort, he left Point Isabel on the evening of the 7th of May, and with the main body of his army, and a train of three hundred wagons, his
light artillery, and two 18-pounders on siege-carriages, drawn by ten yoke of oxen, moved towards the Rio Grande.
In expectation of the enemy's disputing his return, and confident of his ability to repel their efforts, General Taylor issued the following order :
“HEAD-QUARTERS, ARMY OF OCCUPATION,
May 7, 1846.1 ORDER No. 58. 6. The army will march to-day at three o'clock, in the direction of Matamoros. It is known the enemy has recently occupied the route in force. If still in possession, the general will give him battle. The commanding-general has every confidence in his officers and men. If his orders and instructions are carried out, he has no doubt of the result, let the enemy meet him in what numbers they may. He wishes to enjoin upon the battalions of infantry, that their main dependence must be in the bayonet.
W. W. S. BLISS, Assistant Adjutant-General.”
The weather was warm, and their march slow and toilsome, encumbered as it was with the train and the heavy artillery intended for Fort Brown; so that, after making seven miles of their way, they halted and bivouacked on their arms for the night.
Early on the following morning it was reported by the scouts under Captain Walker, that the enemy had deserted their camp, from which it was inferred, that the enemy did not contemplate giving battle. The march was resumed about sunrise, and continued till noon. At this time, the advance of cavalry which had reached the water-hole of Palo Alto, brought intelligence to the general that the Mexicans were in front; and it was soon discovered that they occupied the road in great force.
On reaching the water, the army was halted, with the view of resting and refreshing the men, and enabling the general to
make a proper and deliberate disposition of his forces. The enemy in battle-array was now plainly visible at a distance of three-quarters of a mile, his banners gaily floating in the breeze, and his tall lances flashing in the sunlight. Compact lines of infantry extended from a thicket of chaparral on their right, about a mile over an open prairie of three miles in extent; while a heavy force of cavalry on their left, stretched across the road and rested upon a salt-marsh of difficult passage. At intervals along their line, batteries were planted to sweep the advancing column of the Americans.
Though he saw before him an army greatly superior in numbers, inured to arms in many a fight, and enjoying the advantages of a well-selected position, General Taylor, firm in his resolution to advance, and confident of the bravery of his troops, calmly disposed his forces in order of battle.
The line of battle was formed in two wings. The right wing was commanded by the veteran Colonel David E. Twiggs, and was composed of the following troops, commencing on the extreme right:-5th infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel McIntosh ; Ringgold's light artillery; 3d infantry, Captain L. M. Morris ; two 18-pounders, under Lieutenant Churchhill, 3d artillery ; 4th infantry, Major G. W. Allen ; and two squadrons of dragoons, under Captains Ker and May. The left wing, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Belknap, consisted of a battalion of artillery, serving as infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Childs; Captain Duncan's light artillery; and the 8th infantry, under Captain Montgomery. For security the wagon train was parked near the water, under the directions of Captains Crossman and Myers of the Quartermaster's department, and protected by the squadron of dragoons under Captain Ker.
Having refreshed themselves and filled their canteens, the troops were put in motion and ordered to advance by heads of columns. After the line of battle had been formed, General